In our continued efforts to keep families informed and updated about the curriculum at Blake, each month we will be 'highlighting' updates from the different departments. We hope this will help facilitate conversations at home and maintain a bridge between home and school. Below please find the updates for the month of March 2017.
Grade 6 Grade six artists are working towards abstraction. Students looked at close-up photography of cellular structures of plants and animals for ideas. They have examined different artworks that are inspired by natural forms and figured out ways to design in the abstract, using nature as the launchpad for their ideas. They went further into abstraction by collaborating with other classmates by trading their drawings and allowing their classmates to embellish the drawings even more. These sketches will be developed into paintings.
Grade 7 Seventh grade artists are using the technique of chasing and repoussée to create form in their relief sculpture. They are incising their design into metal sheets and pushing the metal in and out to create surface texture and form.
Grade 8 Eighth grade artists are in the beginning stages of working with acrylic paint. They are learning how to compose their painting to create depth in their work. The techniques of canvas preparation, color mixing, and transfer are explored to further their skill set.
Art Opportunities after school:
Set Design with Mrs. Deveno--The Drama program has been working hard to get the set created for the Spring musical. The production of Shrek is April 7, 8, 9th. This group meets after school, and any help is appreciated.
Blake Open Studios---- The Blake Art room will be open after school on Thursdays, until 3pm. All students are welcome to participate in studio activities of their own choice. Ms. Deveno and Ms. Jones will be on hand to provide materials and informal instruction. There will be no formal registration, it is on a first come, first served basis and limited to 15 students. We are looking forward to seeing you in the Art studio, room 208 !
Grade 6: Moving into the last term in sixth grade involves practicing more open response writing, using reading skills to closely interpret directions and the meanings within questions, studying poetry and sharing the reading of a classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. We are currently learning about prepositions as a part of speech and how prepositional phrases can be used in writing to expand basic sentences.
Grade 7: In the seventh grade, students are reading the novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry about the Logan family's struggles with the racial climate in 1930's Mississippi. We are continuing to practice our skills of analyzing character, figurative language and imagery, and mood while expanding our writing expectations to paragraph length responses.
Grade 8: To finish the short story unit, Grade 8 students created dramatic readings and interpretations of the short stories. Students also worked on comparing/contrasting mood in a few of the short stories with the goal of practicing the skill of analyzing similarities and differences of multiple pieces of literature. Next, students will begin background information and reading To Kill a Mockingbird.
Both 6th grade Group Guidance and 8th grade Embracing Diversity are entering the final weeks of the third rotation. 6th grade Group Guidance has recently discussed the risks associated with trying to be "on-time" to things, promoting instead the habit of aiming to be "early". Embracing Diversity has recently been examining how our personal perspective/lens of the world can influence our understanding and acceptance of another's culture or way of life. The 7th Grade Group Guidance is exploring the Mindful Schools mindfulness curriculum and enjoyed a period of mindful coloring during a heavy assessment week. The 8th Grade Group Guidance classes have just started a new rotation this week. We are discussing future planning and they wrote about where they would like to see themselves in 20 years and what life they envision for themselves.
We would also like to welcome Mrs. Genevieve Guellnitz to the Blake Guidance Department. Mrs. Guellnitz will be working with our 8th grade students and families while Mrs. Dondero is on maternity leave. Mrs. Guellnitz has been working at Medfield High School covering another counselors maternity leave since October. We are excited that she is joining us at Blake Middle School.
Since January, a group of English, Reading and Library Media teachers, has been meeting on a regular basis to update our summer reading program. In the past, all three grades have read the same book, in addition to choosing from separate lists of grade level optional books. This year, we’ve decided to offer each grade four to five different books, all with similar themes. English class discussions in September will afford students the opportunity to compare and contrast what the various protagonists have gone through in their various stories – should prove to be a fun and interesting new twist in the program! Of course summer reading is also about fun, beach like reading. Many Blake students have been sampling new books to help decide on updates to the optional reading lists. If your son or daughter has a suggestion, please have them let Mr. Haycock or Mrs. Knott know. The lists will be finalized by the end of April and the Summer Reading Sale will begin in mid-May.
6th grade students will soon begin their work on traditional pre-algebra skills. They will learn good, solid, methods and notations to solve linear equations. Students will explore the idea of using variables to represent unknown quantities. We encourage all students to explore different variables based on the situation they are trying to describe: m for money, A for amount, t for temperature... Why always use x when there are 25 other letters available!
7th grade students have just completed their unit on probability. This unit allows students to think deeply about outcomes of studies. They will move into their statistics units which will bring discussions about mean versus median. We encourage students to read the newspaper, explore articles in magazines and journals and use their new knowledge to understand interpret presented statistics.
8th grade students will be taking MCAS this year as in years before. There will be a pilot involving technology. All 8th graders will take their math MCAS using a school chromebooks. Students will still have access to paper and pencil for scratch work. To assist in a successful Math MCAS experience, students received training on the formats and features of the Computer Based MCAS Next Generation. Do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher with questions.
The 6th Grade Orchestra has started working on pieces that introduce new key signatures (G Major and D Minor) and the corresponding finger patterns. Gauntlet is in D minor and is designed to reinforce B-flats and highlight each section of the orchestra. Canyon Sunset is a lyrical piece in G Major. In addition to gaining skills in this new key signature, students will also be working on playing with smooth, legato bows.
The 7/8 Orchestra has just started a Shifting Unit. Students will be learning to play in 3rd and 4th position in two different key signatures. Shifting allows students to play notes higher on their instrument as well as play with a more mature sound. This is essential preparation for music performed in High School. We will apply our new skills to the Orchestra piece Night Shift.
The MMEA Eastern Junior District Festival was held March 3 & 4. Tristan Marble, Slater Franks, Katherine Lapham, Jack Shurtleff and Ethan Ni represented Blake and joined 100's of other student musician all-stars from schools throughout the region. The students rehearsed for seven hours on Friday and several hours on Saturday prior to a concert for parents. All of the ensembles gave wonderful performances.
Composer, Rick Hirsch, spent the day of March 2 working with Dale Street, Blake and High School band students on his new piece, BandORama Blues, commissioned by the Medfield Music Association. This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet with a nationally recognized composer. The piece will be premiered at the Band-O-Rama concert (date TBA) featuring all of the 4-12 bands.
6th Grade Chorus students are busy preparing for the Big Sing which will be on Saturday, March 18th at St. Paul’s Parish in Cambridge, MA. They will perform two selections, listen to performances by other choirs, and join together in singing a combined final selection. Singers and directors alike will gain a sense of being part of a larger, enthusiastic community of choral musicians! Adjudication feedback will be shared by the guest conductor, Michele Adams, from the Boston Children’s Chorus. We are looking forward to this special opportunity!
Concert Choir at MHS is preparing pieces to be featured at the March 30th Spring Concert and ultimately at the MICCA Choral Festival
on March 31. We look forward to sharing this program with you! Jazz Choir is presenting an A Cappella set of popular music at King Philip Regional High School on Thursday, April 6th. Other area high schools and collegiate A Cappella groups will round out the Festival. Please come and share in the excitement of our newly named group, MHSound.
The second annual science fair was held on Friday March 10th in our library. Over 20 student teams participated in this event, the brainchild of current senior Emma Twer, who along with about 10 other AP Biology students organized a memorable event for our Blake scientists. Judges were Dr. Marsden, Ms. Adams (HS chemistry teacher) and Mrs. Ana Hurley (Science CTL at DS Middle school) along with three AP Biology students - Max Deval, Anna Joseph and Natalie Chin. We had many outstanding projects displayed as you can see from the pictures below -
6th grade science students have been learning about rock layers and the formation of fossils as they continue their exploration of the Earth’s history. Students have been independently exploring the role index fossils play in understanding past environments. Using technology and our fossil collection, students are applying their understanding of rock formation and fossils to research two geological dig sites in the Grand Canyon. Using similarities in the anatomical structures of modern day organisms and those preserved in the fossil record, students will construct an argument to support evolutionary relationships among organisms.
Digestion has been at the center of 7th grade science this month with the digestive process in humans as the initial focus. In a comparative anatomy lesson on the earthworm, dogfish shark and rat, students completed a dissection of the earthworm and then used a teacher dissected dogfish shark and rat to investigate how form fits function in the organisms. Student teams investigated different questions related to the idea of form fitting function while dissecting and presented their results to the class. The seventh grade students have demonstrated that they are ready for anything in biology! At the end of the month students shift their attention to the processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Students will use marshmallows to create models of glucose molecules from water and carbon dioxide. They will practice diagramming the processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration using an interactive quiz activity.The unit will end with the energy lab where the connections between the energy we use and the amount of carbon dioxide waste we produce is investigated.
In Science exploration students are seeing significant developmental changes in their trout. The fry are now swimming all throughout the tank and have developed their signature parr marks. Students are working hard to maintain the correct water chemistry to ensure the survival of the trout.
Feedback and reporting of student progress towards mastery of the state standards in our life science curriculum will change for the third term. Seventh grade science teachers will be implementing Standards Based Reporting for the rest of the year.
Spring is coming! As the spring equinox passes and the angle of the sun increases day to day, grade 8 is entering their final phase of the year and the main focus in science classes will be working on different concepts in astronomy. This includes creating a scale model of the solar system and discovering ways we could potentially colonize a different planet or moon. In addition the three teachers will be piloting their “Genius Hour” (as developed by google) where students use 20% of their time exploring a topic of their interest framed by the model of design thinking. The Intro to Engineering classes will be entering the coding unit and shifting into creation mode by building a functional city and solving real world problems using Sim City.
Some 8th grade students will be participating in an intramural using three Lego Mindstorm kits purchased through a grant to the MCPE. These kits are used to build and code robots to solve a variety of challenges. Student participation in this intramural will guide curriculum development as we plan to incorporate the lego mindstorms in our intro to engineering class.
Sixth Grade World Geography students continue their work on “solutionary” thinking. Recently students wrapped up a project on rivers of the world and the issues that many of them face. Students researched problems such as the spread of invasive species through commerce, over irrigation, pollution from poor sewage treatment, algae blooms, or blocked fish migration from hydroelectric dams. Sixth graders are currently learning about desertification and deforestation. They are studying the causes of desertification and the possible solutions to keep it from occurring. Additionally, students are learning about deforestation and the effects it has on nations around the globe. Finally, students will research an organization responsible for helping to solve the problems that result from both desertification and deforestation.
Ancient Greece is alive and well in 7th grade Social Studies for the month of March. The focus for the first half of the unit is on Greek geography, religion, styles of government, and daily life. A new aspect of the unit this year is the focus on Greek mythology which is being taught simultaneously in both English and in social studies classrooms. While the students study the gods and the culture of the Greeks found in the myths in social studies, they are focused on the character traits, the moral of the story, and the writing styles found in the myths in English class. The second half of the Greek unit focuses on the Greek military, the conflict with the Persian Empire, and the contributions made by the Greeks in philosophy, science, and the theater. The unit ends with the highly anticipated "Greek Week" where the students are split into five Greek City -States and compete for the honor of being crowned Greek Week Champion. The week highlights the academic material covered in the unit, their ability to work effectively with their team, and their ability to step outside their comfort zone a bit through song, dramatic readings, drawings, and athletic competitions. The week is a fun one at school and we ask for your patience as your children dress in a particular color each day, talk incessantly about the passing of the totem from one class to the next, and discuss at length their team’s strategy in the 5 way dodge-ball game.
World History I students are finishing up their examination of the European Middle Ages. Students will be completing a variety of assessments relating to topics in medieval history. Students are learning about the medieval economic and social system of feudalism which was made up of peasants, knights, lords and ladies and monarchs. Students are also learning about the power and influence of the Roman Catholic Church and interactions which occurred between Christianity and Islam during the Crusades. Students will also delve into the impact of major historical figures such as Joan of Arc and the cultural and social impact of the Black Death which devastated Europe during the 1340s. Next, students will learn more about the cultural impact of the Black Death during their examination of the European Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation.
6th grade health classes are finishing up our unit on Decision Making. As part of this unit, we are looking at the negative effects of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs on adolescent development. The students have been working on developing their decision making skills through examining different potential scenarios that they may be faced with in the coming years. We have focused much of our time on learning the acronym DECIDE, which stands for Determine Decision, Examine Options, Consider Consequences, Identify Values that will impact decision making, Decide and Evaluate the outcome. We have talked about how we should be trying to use this skill in helping our decision making process. We have had some lively discussions in class and students are finishing up their culminating assignment, which is a poster that will help guide others in the decision making process.
Grade 7 students recently completed their Decision Making unit focusing on peer pressure, social media and hygiene. Classes are now transitioning into another important unit focusing on Interpersonal Communication. As an introduction to the unit, students were challenged to untangle 'human knots' as well as to compete in rounds of charades as a means to emphasize how challenging it may be to communicate seemingly simple tasks and ideas while outside of our comfort zones. Students will rely on previous skills including Decision Making, Analyzing Influences and Accessing Information to learn more about tobacco, drugs and alcohol and will learn methods of communicating their desires to avoid these substances.
8th graders are wrapping up their Decision-Making units with a final project. Their task is to write a children's short-story that shows the decision-making process discussed and practiced in class. They were given the opportunity to pick their topics (i.e., peer pressure with drugs/alcohol, dating relationships, bullying, family conflict, etc.) Students are using the app BookCreator to write their stories and create their illustrations. Next week, students will read each other's books and peer assess. It will be an opportunity for students to see other's creativity and also act as "teacher" for the day as they critically analyze one another’s decision-making skill.
Physical Education (Grades 6-8)
All students are currently in their Ballroom Dance units and finalizing their last few steps and skills in preparation for their group projects to begin next week. The three dances being taught at Blake are Foxtrot (Grade 6,) Salsa (Grade 7,) and Swing (Grade 8.) Points of emphasis have been treating your partner with respect and kindness, social responsibility and of course, executing the steps and hand-positions to music. We look forward to seeing their creativity in their final group routines! Watch Mr. Woods and Mrs. Gelinas introduce the promenade here and then see it put to music here. Click on both for sound.
Students are approaching their last consumer science class of the year, and they have been given the opportunity to choose a recipe from the year (or past years) to repeat for their final class. It is always fun and easier to create a meal that has been made before, since students have a big picture of what the final product should look like. Please seek out opportunities to include your children in the steps of food preparation at home. They only average eight classes each year, and the skills they are developing require repetition at home in order for them to continue to work toward independence. All students have created an electronic recipe folder in their Google Drive. Engage them in meal planning and see their enthusiasm soar!
Students in sixth grade French just enjoyed a performance by French-Canadian singer-songwriter Josée Vachon. Continuing with the theme from her song "Mon père m'envoie au marché," students will start learning about French animals, the sounds they make, and where they live.
Students in sixth grade Mandarin are studying Unit 3 Lesson 1; they are learning: What is your name? At the end of this lesson, students will be able to ask and respond to questions about names and understand the cultural beliefs related to Chinese names.
In sixth grade Spanish, our students are learning how to describe people and family members. They are finishing up their narrated digital family albums, and we are proud of all they are able to do with their burgeoning language skills!6th graders enjoyed a concert with singer/songwriter Jose Vachon. She shared songs in French and Spanish as well some culture and history of the French-Canadiens. Some students participated and learned to play the "spoon"!
The seventh grade French students are learning café vocabulary...discussing foods, drinks and being able to place an order at the café. Next, they will prepare skits, which is always very creative! Students will act out a café scene in which one of them is the server and the others are the customers. The table will be set and props will be used - it promises to be very entertaining!
In seventh grade Mandarin, students just finished Unit 6 Lesson 2: Appearance. At the end of his lesson, students should be able to describe people’s appearances.
In seventh grade Spanish, students will be writing a short story about various members of their community. They will describe what people look like, act like, and how they feel. We are thrilled with their ability to extend their thoughts in meaningful linguistic ways.
In eighth grade French, students having been practicing using the past tense, to talk and write about how their days/weekends were and various activities they did. They are working on a presentation where they will have a conversation with a partner recounting their day. The next thematic unit will be focusing on clothing and shopping.
In eighth grade Mandarin, students just finished Unit 11 Lesson 1: My favorite fruit. At the end of his lesson, students should be able to identify different fruits and tell the personal preference for the fruits and comment on fruits.
Eighth grade Spanish students have been considering cultural differences between shopping malls and "mercados." They are preparing an in-class mini-mercado, during which they will show their skills in selling products from their store, buying things from others, and asking for directions--all in Spanish!